At Logos Evangelical Seminary, every student is required to take a spiritual formation class. As president, I have had the privilege of leading these classes for the last 24 years, and it has been a priceless opportunity to talk to future leaders of the church about their hopes, needs, and problems.
During one of my classes, a student shared that while she was doing her morning devotions, her husband knocked at her door and said, “It’s time to drive the children to school.” She responded loudly, “I know. Don’t disturb me!”
A few minutes later, while on the road, the children began arguing about the Bible verses they had just memorized. She shouted, “Keep quiet!”
As she recalled later, the Holy Spirit rebuked her immediately. “Did you not just have quiet time with me? Why are you shouting at your husband and children?”
She tearfully apologized to her children and later called her husband to apologize for her abrupt response that morning. She shared with my class, “Last week we learned that we should be faithful to the end, and I have already failed twice this morning.” I tried to comfort her, saying, “Praise the Lord for your failure to keep your temper, which lasted only 20 minutes. The Holy Spirit is helping you change your attitude and behavior.”
We often think that “spirituality” means more Bible reading and more prayer. But Elder Wu Yung, a Chinese pastor and a long-time chair of the board of China Evangelical Seminary in Taiwan, offers a different definition: “Spirituality is not how much you have read the Bible or how long you have prayed, but rather your reaction to the people and the issues you face.”
Spirituality is based in daily living, so our spiritual formation classes at Logos focus on the reality of daily lives beyond the class assignments. During every class, I encourage students to share how the previous lesson has had an effect on their lives and how the Holy Spirit has guided them. I also arrange interview times with students — and with their spouses if they are married, because often the person who sees you day by day is the one who knows the most about you.
Seminary board members must constantly think about many practical issues. They are tasked with ensuring the institution’s financial stability, safeguarding it from legal liabilities, finding appropriate leaders, and crafting plans that advance the mission. These are all good and necessary, just as prayer and Bible reading are. And yet none of these, by themselves, ensure that boards are cultivating a true and lively spirituality, either among students or among themselves. Rather, students, administrators, and boards alike must develop a Christ-like attitude with people, and we must allow ourselves to be transformed by Christ in our relationships with those who are closest to us.
When spiritual formation shines a bright light on our words, deeds, and thoughts, then our own leadership will be transformed, and the students at our schools will be ready to advance the kingdom of God — in the family, the work place, and the church.
Translated from the Chinese by Kathleen Lin. The original is available on request.